Mulu Haile, MCDP (Ethiopia)

Mulu Haile is the founder and director of Mission for Community Development Program (MCDP), one of CARE's primary partners.

Mulu Haile, speaking at a certification ceremony

“I think we will see several successful international businesswomen coming out of this process.”

Mission for Community Development Program (MCDP) was CARE’s primary partner on the Women for Women project in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. They were responsible for implementing all grass-root activities with the women. MCDP focuses on marginalised women and children and specialises in integrating social development with political and economic empowerment, to change society for the better.  

How important is entrepreneurship for Ethiopian women?

In Ethiopia we have a very poor population, with women the most affected.  Many women are dependent on their husbands for income.  By empowering women to become economically independent, we can make a huge difference to the lifestyle of the woman and her family.   As well as giving her an income, it will also help her to have a more equal status within the household.  When women earn an income they can send their children to school and provide them with better food.

How important is access to capital?

It is crucial.  Because these women are poor they cannot borrow money from financial institutions as they don’t have the collateral.   Through the project we helped women access loans in a variety of ways ranging from Village Savings & Loan Associations, Savings & Credit Cooperatives and access to formal financial institutions, such as Addis Capital Goods.

How important is collaboration?

Bringing the women together was really very important.  When they came together, they shared experiences and saw challenges as a group problem.  Together the women have their own ideas and learn from one another.  Collectively they also have more power to influence their husbands, Government and their communities.

Why did you run the Business Plan Competition? 

The business plan competition showed the women how to develop a better business plan and how to compete with one another. Those women that developed great ideas and knew their customers did well and won the awards.  The money they won will help them to improve and develop their businesses.

Tell us about the bazaars

Normally the Government will only permit registered businesses to participate in bazaars but, thanks to the project, they were given this new opportunity.  Many women only sell from home to their neighbours – the bazaars gave them an avenue to learn how to sell, expand their customer base, see what others were selling and earn more. 

What role do men have in supporting women entrepreneurs?

In Ethiopian culture men don’t tend to participate in household chores. The training we gave to husbands and sons showed them that the woman is running this business to support her family, and encourages the men and boys to support with household chores, such as cooking and washing.  The mini-drama we aired on national TV also helped with raising awareness amongst men and boys.

What does the future hold for these women?

Some of the cooperatives will definitely be sustainable without our on-going support.  For the other women, we would like to be able to continue to support them with further training and coaching.

Which woman from the programme has stood out and why?

Enguday stood out, she’s really fantastic. She found a niche in making gruel for hospital patients.  She found what she was good at and now everybody goes to her.

Describe the project in three words.

Interesting; Successful; Sustainable


 “We couldn’t have run this project without our fantastic partners.”  Misrach Mekonnen, Project Manager, CARE Ethiopia.